My Passport SSD Review: Perfectly balanced, as all things should be

Western Digital My Passport Review
(Image: © Stephen Warwick / iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: This drive's tiny form factor and immense speed make it the perfect storage expansion companion.


  • +

    Very small, lightweight

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    Lightning-fast read/write speeds

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    Mac and Windows compatible

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    Hardware encryption

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    Good software support

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  • -

    Can get quite hot

  • -

    Fiddly adapter

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    Ships in NTFS format

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Western Digital is a household name when it comes to creating storage solutions, so it's really no surprise that the Western Digital My Passport SSD is one of the best external hard drives for Mac that you can buy right now.

The My Passport SSD is a really great option for anyone who needs compact Mac storage on the go. With all the speed you can imagine from NVMe SSD technology, this drive gives every competitor a run for its money and is very well priced. The 2020 option is a sleek, modern update to the 2017 model that gave us the distinctive slab look, and the upgrades inside don't leave you disappointed either. Let's take a look at our My Passport SSD review to find out why it's one of the best USB-C hard drives for Mac we've seen.

Western Digital My Passport SSD: What I like

Western Digital My Passport Review

Western Digital My Passport Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

In our My Passport SSD review, several excellent qualities became immediately apparent. Firstly, the size. This drive is absolutely tiny. It measures just 3.94" x 2.17" x 0.35", so it's the same width as a credit card and ever so slightly longer. If you need portable storage, this is the hard drive for you. /On the move, the last thing you want to worry about is lugging around a big heavy hard drive that takes up lots of room in your bag, the My Passport SSD will fit right into your pocket. Also durable, the My Passport SSD offers shock and vibration resistance and drop resistance up to 6.5ft.

Once it's plugged in, you'll immediately notice the excellent speeds that the My Passport SSD offers. Officially, it offers read speeds of 1050MB/s and write speeds of 1000MB/s (both sequential). In practice, we found this to be absolutely true. Transferring 15GB of video files to the drive to almost exactly 15 seconds, which makes it a great option for transferring larger data dumps at the drop of a hat. You won't be left wanting for capacity either; we tested the 1TB version of the My Passport SSD, however, you can downsize to 500GB if you so wish or upgrade to as much as 4TB for all the storage you could possible need.

The My Passport SSD is compatible with both Mac and Windows, however, we did have to reformat ours from NFTS to AFPS, but this can be done in your Mac's Disk Utility app in just a few seconds the first time you use it. Official platform support comes for Windows 8 and 10, as well as macOS Catalina, Mojave, or High Sierra (Big Sur is not listed by Western Digital, but it works just fine). It also works with USB 3.2 and USB-C thanks to an adapter that ships with the drive.

The My Passport SSD also offers hardware-based 256-bit AES hardware encryption, support by its WD Discovery software, which gives you access to the WD Security app and WD Drive Utilities. WD Security lets you add password protection (supported by the hardware encryption), which is perfect for ensuring that no one else can access your drive. Given the hard drive's portable nature, this is a great complementary feature, but remember, forget your password, and it's game over. Great software support is supplemented by the WD Drive Utilities app, which you can use to register the drive, set timers, run diagnostics, and perform a Drive Erase. The My Passport SSD can also be used as a backup tool and comes with Backup software, as well as Apple Time Machine compatibility.

Western Digital My Passport SSD: What I don't like

Western Digital My Passport Review

Western Digital My Passport Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

We've given the My Passport SSD five stars, but it isn't perfect. The drive does run hot and is noticeably warm to the touch after just a few minutes of use. Given the high speeds and small form factor, this isn't totally unexpected, however, and didn't lead to any performance issues.

The My Passport SSD comes with a very short USB cable and a small USB-C to USB-A adapter. This cable is handy for use with either USB 3 or USB-C ports, but the cable (pictured) is pretty short, and the adapter (like all adapters) is small and easy to lose. If you don't' want to risk misplacing either, you might want to supplement your purchase with a longer USB-C cable or use one that you already have.

As we noted, the My Passport SSD ships in NTFS format. Given the proliferation of Windows versus Mac, this is understandable; the hard drive is advertised as a drive for both Mac and Windows users and simply ships in the most popular format, NTFS. That means that the first time you plug it into a Mac, you'll be able to read and see the device but not write to it or make any changes. Reformatting the drive is a very mild inconvenience; simply head to Disk Utility, select 'Partition,' pick a name for your drive, select AFPS from the drop-down, and you're done. It took us less than 60 seconds, and you'll run into this sort of thing with basically any drive that works on both Mac and Windows.

The competition

Western Digital My Passport Review

Western Digital My Passport Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

There is no shortage of external Mac hard drives on the market. SSD technology is much more affordable than it used to be, but you can still get a much cheaper drive (or more capacity) if you don't need the lightning speeds the My Passport SSD offers. In the same bracket, the Samsung T7 Portable SSD is priced in a similar bracket to the My Passport SSD, but offers a much different design aesthetic, shock and drop resistance up to 6ft and heat control, as well as password protection like the My Passport SSD.

As mentioned, you can get much more storage for your money if you were to pickup something like the Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Portable Hard Drive, with 2TB available for just $62.99. Remember, however, this is a very big tradeoff in speed compared to SSD offerings.

Conversely, if you need MOAR SPEED, check out the Samsung 5X Portable SSD. The Ferrari of hard drives, this SSD supports read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s, respectively, and can render and compile high res photos and videos with up to a 40GB/s data transfer. You'll be paying through the nose for the extra speed, though.

If rugged protection is your priority, there's always the G-Technology G-DRIVE Mobile SSD Durable Portable External Storage. A slower-speed SSD compared to the My Passport SSD, the G-Drive is IP67 rated against water and dust, drop-tested to ten feet, and comes with a 1000 pound crush-resistance promise.

Western Digital My Passport: Should you buy

Western Digital My Passport Review

Western Digital My Passport Review (Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

You should buy this if ...

You want portability

The My Passport SSD is unparalleled when it comes to size and weight, an ultra-portable storage option.

You need the speed of an SSD

There are faster SSDs on the market, but this is a very affordable way to vastly improve on the read/write speeds of standard HDDs.

You own a "modern" Mac

With a USB-C port and cable, this drive is a great option for anyone using more recent and current Mac hardware that supports USB-C or with a hub that does this.

You want to protect important data

The hardware-based encryption of the My Passport SSD is a great option for anyone who doesn't want others snooping around in their files.

You should not buy this if ...

You don't need SSD speed

Speed is nice, but if you need reams of storage instead, you might prefer a cheaper hard drive that isn't solid-state but can hold that entire family photo collection you're looking to keep safe.

You want the most rugged hard drive possible

The My Passport SSD is well built and certainly not flimsy, but it isn't a Rugged Lacie drive and might not be your first choice if you need bomb-proof protection from travel and the elements.

You want biometric security

Still, a relative novelty with hard drives, the Samsung T7 Touch offers more convenient and arguably more secure protection through a fingerprint scanner. It's more expensive but easier than typing a password and impossible to forget.

The My Passport is a tremendous option for anyone who wants well-priced SSD storage and great portability. But there are cheaper options if you don't need the speeds and more expensive options if you want either more speed or durability.

Thus concludes our My Passport SSD review. We absolutely love this hard drive, hence its great rating. The hard drive market is very saturated, and there is basically a hard drive for every imaginable need. In particular, this option is superb when it comes to size, portability, speed, and price, an exceptionally well-balanced piece of kit.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9